Life at a large Assisted Living Facility

This is the question I asked my 89 year old Granny when we picked her up at her assisted living facility recently:

What is it like to live in a large Assisted Living Facility?

She said, “It’s like living in a hotel. They take care of everything for you.  They prepare your meals and even bring them to you if you want.  They clean your rooms.  They even have nurses to take care of you when you’re sick.  But, I still feel like I am on my own.

When I go in my apartment and shut the door, I can do what I want, when I want.  Oh, there are plenty of activities and entertainment if I want to go.  They even have a bus to take you to doctor’s appointments or shopping or out to lunch.  If you can’t live at home alone anymore, this is the best place to be.”

My husband and I were full-time caregivers for Granny, for almost two years before she moved to an assisted living facility. We found that just like most caregivers we reached a milestone in terms of caring for her about a year ago. The feeling occurred after several incidents of her exhibiting resentful behavior. Over a period of time we were struck by the thought: “Even helping as much as we can, we are genuinely concerned about her well-being and our own.”

If you’ve experienced this feeling, it’s important to be honest with yourself on behalf of whomever you care for. It’s time to assess whether—or perhaps more accurately, when—Assisted Living is going to be a better option for you and your loved one.

 

Facilitating Granny’s move to an assisted living facility was a difficult time for all of us. But now we feel a profound sense of relief.  We can move on with our lives, knowing she is well taken care of.  We can even travel and have plenty of time for our grandkids.

Peace of mind is a true gift.  If you are struggling with care giving for an aging loved one, contact us, we’d like to help.

For more information on this topic visit

 

Lifestyle360 sustains the aspects that make life meaningful and fun

 

Over and over again, I hear or see written about how people everywhere are trying to find the right balance of their minds, their bodies and their spirits. I’ve even seen whole books written about these three life values. But what happens to our seniors, especially when they are not able to live on their own?

Our seniors hope to live long and happy lives. Most of them also embrace the idea that health, wealth and happiness contribute to long and happy lives. In addition, they enjoy meaningful relationships, creating a home, expanding their hobbies, pursuing their passions, growing intellectually, staying active and giving back.

These passions do not diminish as we age. Therefore, we are happy to report that Five Star Senior Living Communities have incorporated Lifestyle360 as a mission in their senior living communities. They state that Lifestyle360 sustains the aspects that make life meaningful and fun while giving residents the opportunity to discover new interests and friendships. Their Five Dimensions of Wellness should be incorporated into all senior living communities. These include the following programs

  1. Physical Wellness; such as, Tai Chi, Destination Walk, Yoga
  2. Spiritual Wellness; such as, Meditative Techniques, Spiritual Pathways, Journaling
  3. Intellectual Wellness; such as, Lecture Series, Bird Watching, Book Clubs
  4. Emotional Wellness; such as, Watercolor, Intergenerational Programs, Storytelling
  5. Social Wellness; such as, Museums, Checkers, Theater

These evidence based programs support the intellectual, social, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of their residents.

We would love to help all our seniors and their families find just the right home that fits ALL of their physical, emotional and physical needs!

Contact me or one of the other compassionate senior care advisors at (386) 847-2322 or at www.assistedlivingmadesimple.com or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Let us help you.

Am I losing it? Is this the first sign of senility?

May 25, 2016

Oh No! I Can’t Find My Keys!

Am I losing it? Is this the first sign of senility?

I have been looking for my keys for two days and still haven’t found them. At first I felt panic. Then I remembered there were spare keys hidden in case this should happen—so the panic subsided. Next, I searched and searched and searched in all the normal places. I tried and tried to remember where I put them, but just couldn’t remember. My next reaction was anger at myself. How could I do such a ridiculous thing? I’ve always prided myself on being the organizer and the problem solver; the person relied on to remember things. How could I have done this?

Then I thought: Am I losing it? Is this the first sign of senility?

I accept that I am getting older, but am I THAT old already? So I did what most people do these days, I researched the topic for my own peace of mind. According to HelpGuide.org (Trusted guide to mental, emotional & social health) I found that I am not exhibiting the early signs of senility/dementia. The article I read stated the following:

Normal age-related forgetfulness

The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally NOT considered warning signs of dementia:

  • Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys
  • Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by a son’s name
  • Occasionally forgetting an appointment
  • Having trouble remembering what you’ve just read, or the details of a conversation
  • Walking into a room and forgetting why you entered
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Not quite being able to retrieve information you have “on the tip of your tongue”

Well now I’m not as worried about being senile or having the early stages of dementia. Rather, I am thinking about the famous quote by the late Bette Davis, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” She was so right! As we age, our problems get worse and worse. We are just like you and we’re here to help you or your loved one through the aging process.

Contact me or one of the other compassionate senior care advisors at (386) 847-2322 or at www.assistedlivingmadesimple.com or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Let us help you.

Every aging driver’s greatest fear

May 25, 2016

Police: Driver, 85, hits and kills toddler

Ripped from the headline in the May 24, 2016 Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL.

This is every aging driver’s greatest fear. And, it may only get worse, because the driver had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (and still driving) his insurance may no longer be in effect!

But, getting older drivers to decide to stop on their own may be a family’s most difficult dilemma. The best advice that I have seen on this is to Talk Early and Talk Often. The following steps may help begin the conversation on when it’s time to stop driving.

  1. Discuss concerns from the perspective of the senior and others. Try to come to reasonable solutions for everyone involved.
  2. Be aware of early signs of change in driving habits. Encourage the senior to participate in self-assessment of their driving skills. Provide support – not confrontation.
  3. Watch for warning signs (see below).
  4. Preserve a senior’s independence by having creative transportation alternatives, when the time comes to end their driving.

Some warning signs that a senior may be approaching the time to quit driving.

  • Avoiding driving at night or in bad weather
  • Driving only in their “local” area
  • Avoiding main highways
  • Hesitating to offer to drive

Some signs that a senior should no longer be driving

  • A MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS and/or taking medications that could impede driving ability
  • Stopping at green lights
  • Getting confused by traffic signals
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Having near accidents or extreme difficulty parking
  • Getting lost and/or totally forgetting where they are or where they were going
  • Observing or hearing from close friends and family members who are concerned about the safety of the senior and others.

Your elderly loved ones: Should they be driving? Take action if needed. You may save a life!

Contact me or one of the other compassionate senior care advisors at (386) 847-2322 or at www.assistedlivingmadesimple.com or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Let us help you.

Assisted Living Facility for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Sufferers: Part 2

May 17, 2016

Assisted Living Facility for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Sufferers: Part 2

The most difficult decision an ALZ/dementia caregiver must make is deciding when the appropriate time is to move their loved one to a residential care facility and deciding which facility is appropriate for them.

When trying to make this decision – seek assistance. An assisted living referral service, such as: Assisted Living Made Simple will be invaluable. Because the choice will have a profound effect on both the caregiver and the sufferer, many factors need to be considered. The goal is to find a setting that will provide “peace of mind” for the caregiver and a safe, compassionate and healthy environment for their loved one.

The following checklist is supplied by the Alzheimer’s Association and used by Assisted Living Made Simple when recommending appropriate Alz/dementia care facility for families.

Family Involvement

  • Families are encouraged to participate in care planning
  • Families are informed of changes in resident’s condition and care needs
  • Families are encouraged to communicate with staff

Staffing

  • Medical care is provided
  • Personal care and assistance is provided
  • Staff recognize persons with dementia as unique individuals, and care is personalized to meet specific needs, abilities and interests
  • Staff is trained in dementia care

Programs and Services

  • Appropriate services and programming based on specific health and behavioral care needs are available
  • Planned activities take place (ask to see activity schedule; note if the activity listed at the time of your visit is occurring)
  • Activities are available on the weekends or during evenings
  • Activities are designed to meet specific needs, interests and abilities
  • Transportation is available for medical appointments and shopping for personal items
  • Care planning sessions are held regularly

Residents

  • Personal care is done with respect and dignity
  • Residents are comfortable, relaxed and involved in activities
  • Residents are well-groomed, clean and dressed appropriately

Environment

  • Indoor space allows for freedom of movement and promotes independence
  • Indoor and outdoor areas are safe and secure
  • The facility is easy to navigate
  • There is a designated family visiting area
  • Resident rooms are clean and spacious
  • Residents are allowed to bring familiar items with them, such as photos, bedding a chair

Meals

  • There are regular meal and snack times
  • Food is appetizing (ask to see the weekly menu and come for a meal)
  • The dining environment is pleasant
  • Family and friends are able to join at mealtime
  • Staff have a plan for monitoring adequate nutrition
  • Staff are able to provide for any special dietary needs
  • Staff provide appropriate assistance based on person’s abilities (for example, encouragement during meals or assisted feeding in advanced stages)
  • There are no environmental distractions during meal time (noisy TV etc.)

Policies and Procedures

  • Family and friends able to participate in care
  • Visiting hours work for the family
  • Discharge policy has been discussed (learn about any situation or condition that would lead to a discharge from the facility, such as change in behavior or financial circumstances)

Read more: http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp#ixzz48uxWqqGA

Contact me or one of the other compassionate senior care advisors at (386) 847-2322 or at www.assistedlivingmadesimple.com or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Let us help you.

Sincerely,

 

Susan Little, Senior Care Advisor

Owner/Operator Assisted Living Made Simple, LLC

ElderCare Simplified, LLC

What is an Assisted Living or Senior Living Community? What is an assisted living referral service?

May 6, 2016

 

What is an Assisted Living or Senior Living Community?

What is an assisted living referral service?

I’d like to share some information with you about assisted living facilities (ALFs) or senior living communities and assisted living referral services. As a personal senior care giver and a senior living advisor, I have visited most of our local ALF’s and can tell you all about them; but first, I want to say.

“Today’s assisted living facilities ARE NOT the old folk’s homes you heard about from your grandparents. Some of them are big, some are small, and some are just right for you and the people you love. There really are great places for all kinds of people from all walks of life. There are also price ranges to fit almost everyone’s budget.”

The following are my observations about the ALF’s I have recently visited. My first impression of some of the larger Assisted Living Facilities was of an upscale apartment complex—some, even on par with a nice hotel.   Many of the smaller ALF’s are nice homes in neighborhoods just like mine or yours. They range from small intimate homes to large homes with swimming pools and gardens. All of them provided good meals, but some varied from two meals a day, to all meals a day including snacks. The assistance provided for the residents depended on the individual needs of the residents and the licensing of the facility.

I have found that for most families like mine, deciding what services and living conditions are best for them or their aging loved one is very difficult. This is where an assisted living referral service can help. An ALF referral service provides a consultation with a senior living advisor. They offer extensive information about assisted living or senior living and senior care options available in our area; based on individual budget, specific care needs and lifestyle preferences. These senior living advisors help families choose the appropriate assisted or senior living community that best meets their needs.

A friend of mine’s daughter who was a full-time care giver for her mother took advantage of Assisted Living Made Simple, an assisted living referral service—she recently wrote this heartwarming note:

“I am doing much better because of your help……thank you again, a million times! Mom is going to her new home Tuesday and she is so excited. I feel so much relief coming over me. You made placement for her so very easy for me.”

In my opinion, we all need to become more informed about assisted and senior living options. Let us help you!

Call us at (386) 847-2322 or at www.assistedlivingmadesimple.com or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Let us help you.

Getting Help You Can Trust

April 28, 2016

Are you dealing with an aging loved one? Are you looking for help?

Where do you start to search for resources? Online—it’s free and anonymous, right? Don’t click yet!

Your online searches can target you!

Let’s say that in your online search you fill in a little information on a Website.   Soon you may get a call from an empathetic “eldercare specialist.” They inform you that they will help you. BE AWARE, you are now their customer exclusively.

Can you trust them? Do you realize that this “eldercare specialist” is paid on commission and only gets paid when you choose a company or service they recommend? Do you realize that they will only recommend services or facilities that have signed a contract to pay the company for referrals? Do you realize that they may live 1,000 miles away and may work off a “list” provided by the company? Do you realize that they may spew your information out to all these contracted service providers and facilities in your area? All of these service providers and facilities may then call you directly.

In a New York Times article, A Helping Hand, Paid on Commission, by Paula Span (9-3-11) she writes:

“Many free referral services operate this way, including the nation’s largest, A Place for Mom, which every month fields requests from 50,000 families and refers them to 18,000 facilities and agencies – all of which have signed contracts agreeing to pay when a lead becomes a customer   . . . A network of 430 advisers across the country works the phones to try to make that happen.”

In an interview, the CEO of A Place for Mom, went on to state in part that – In many cases, advisers will be referring callers to assisted living or independent living facilities, nursing homes, specialized dementia residences, continuing care communities or home care agencies that they haven’t visited or know.

Wouldn’t you rather trust your loved one’s care to locals who have personal experience with local assisted living or independent living facilities, nursing homes, specialized dementia residences, continuing care communities or home care agencies?

If we don’t know and trust them, we won’t recommend them. We have personally visited the facilities we recommend. Let us help you.

Call us at (386) 847-2322 or at www.assistedlivingmadesimple.com or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Let us help you.

Assisted Living Facility for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Sufferers: Part 1

April 21, 2016

Assisted Living Facility for Alzheimer’s/Dementia Sufferers: Part 1

The best advice I can give my Alzheimer’s/Dementia caregivers is to never say, “I’ll never move my loved one who is suffering from Alz/Dementia.” Better to accept the fact that there may come a time when your loved one will need more care than you can provide at home.

These are both debilitating diseases that require medical attention during the middle to late stages of the diseases. Unfortunately, our society is quick to understand and take steps if someone is diagnosed with a stroke, heart attack, or lung cancer—but, not so with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Our society needs to accept the fact that these diseases are just as bad or worse. As these diseases progress into the late-stages, care requirements and 24-hour supervision are usually required.

Once you become a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia it is best to develop a step by step plan for the sufferers care. The Alzheimer’s Association has some wonderful resources to help map out a plan on their website www.alz.org called the Alzheimer’s Navigator.

The most difficult decision a caregiver must make is deciding when the appropriate time is to move their loved one to a residential care facility. The following questions may help when trying to make this difficult decision.

  • Is the Alz/dementia sufferer unsafe in their current home environment?
  • Is the health of the sufferer at risk?
  • Is the health of the caregiver at risk?
  • Are the sufferers care needs beyond the caregiver’s physical abilities?
  • Is the caregiver stressed, irritable and impatient with the sufferer and others?
  • Are the caregiver’s family members or work responsibilities being neglected?
  • Would a residential facility that specializes in Alz/dementia benefit the sufferer?

Even if the answer to all of the questions above was yes—making the transition can be gut wrenching. These feelings are normal and common. Fortunately, there is help! We work daily with families who are dealing with these issues.

Contact me or one of the other compassionate senior care advisors at (386) 847-2322 or at www.assistedlivingmadesimple.com or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Let us help you.

Sincerely,

 

Susan Little, Senior Care Advisor

Owner/Operator Assisted Living Made Simple, LLC

ElderCare Simplified, LLC

Strategies I’ve Gained from being a Caregiver Support Group Facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Association

The purpose of Assisted Living Made Simple is to help families find the perfect assisted living facility for their family member.

But our mission is to be passionate advocates for seniors and their care by providing a complete senior living resource service. Therefore; we provide guidancea and support for caregivers through all the phases of aging. Because more and more elders and families are impacted by Alzheimer’s and Dementia we sponsor a monthly Caregiver Support Group through the Alzheimer’s Association at the ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center.

The caregivers who attend these monthly meetings shared that they often feel overwhelmed and frustrated trying to deal with difficult behaviors caused by these diseases.  Together we discussed and researched some strategies that worked for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. These strategies proved to be so helpful that I decided they should be shared through this website.

  1. Wandering (especially at night) –To control, homes should remain locked at all times and all patients should wear identification jewelry.
  2. Hoarding and hiding– Frequent checks should be done for hidden food that could cause physical harm.  Sharp knives, firearms money and valuables should be kept locked away.  Wastepaper baskets should be checked for “stashed” items before emptying.
  3. Clinging and following– Understand that appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviors may be gone.  Going into unauthorized or inappropriate places is common, invading personal space and touching may also occur.  Be alert but not alarmed by these behaviors.  Keep bathrooms and unauthorized areas locked.  Try redirecting attention to more appropriate places or things.
  4. Complaining and accusing– Comments like “You’re keeping me locked-up.” “You are stealing from me.” “You’re cruel to me.” Are upsetting.  Do not take these accusations personally!  Confusion, frustration, and despair are the real reason for the comments.  Try to ignore them when possible or offer sympathy by responding with “I’m sorry you are having a tough time.”
  5. Repeating the same remark, behavior, question, or action(over and over again) – Resist telling the person that you have asked or done that before, because it may just cause more aggravation.  Remember that short term memory is the first behavior lost. Sometimes to make the person feel more secure—redirect them to older memories through old pictures, old songs, or old events.
  6. Stubborness and defiance– People with Dementia/Alzheimer’s may resist being dressed and bathed, they may refuse to eat at “appropriate” times.  Often this stubbornness is due to fear and confusion.  Defiance of simple commands may be due to a lack of understanding.  As long as the behavior is not harmful, try to be forgiving and flexible.
  7. Stealing– As mentioned above, understand that appropriate vs. inappropriate behaviors are gone, therefore; some people with Dementia/Alz may take items from stores or neighbors simply because they like them.  To prevent embarrassment and a difficult explanation, the person suffering from the disease should be identifiable and measures should be taken to lessen their ability to “take” things.  While shopping, they should push the shopping cart to occupy their hands, or have their pockets sewn shut.
  8. Sexual improprieties– Myths are more common than truths about sexual behaviors in people with Dementia/Alz.  But it is true that they may forget they’re inappropriately dressed or may be less than discreet about touching themselves or others.  It is also not uncommon for people with this disease to mistake the identity of a person for their spouse—causing an attraction.  Although inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, scolding does little to curb the behavior, because they do not understand that they have done anything wrong.  Avoiding situations in which such embarrassments might occur are the best solution.
  9. Physical aggression– Especially in the later stages of these diseases, physical aggression can occur.  Even though this behavior needs to be attributed to their illness rather than intent, it still needs to be addressed.  Try to create a peaceful, calm environment.  If this does not work, take the least restrictive action that you can to solve the situation, but if all else fails notify the authorities to avoid physical harm.
  10. Delusional thinking – Normal neurological connections in the brain of people with these diseases can become scrambled–past experiences with future experiences, past fears with new fears–all can be confused with reality.   Therefore, you could be accused of doing things or having done things that never happened.  Again, try not to take these things personally and try to create safe and secure settings—this can help control these delusional thoughts.

 

Please email any comments you may have about Alzheimer’s/dementia, senior living, senior products or senior services to info@eldercaresimplified.com with Comments in the subject line. Or you can contact me or one of the other compassionate senior care advisors at (306) 847-2322 or at http://assistedlivingmadesimple.com/contact-us/ or ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Either way this is free! Let us help you.

I’m looking forward to your comments.

Sincerely,

 

Susan Little, Senior Care Advisor

Owner/Operator Assisted Living Made Simple, LLC

ElderCare Simplified, LLC

 

 

Tips to bring joy and comfort to your family’s senior during the holidays

Tips to bring joy and comfort to your family’s senior during the holidays

This month let’s spread some holiday cheer by involving our seniors in our holiday festivities. The holidays can be a very difficult time for our seniors. Their memories of family and friends and happier times can lead to loneliness and depression. However, there are many things you can do to help them through this time of year. Simple things can provide comfort and give them a feeling of connections with your family and current events and times.

These are some of the things I do to bring joy and comfort to my family’s senior during the holidays.
• Holiday decorating: We use Granny’s Christmas decorations for our home. We play Christmas music and decorate the tree together using her ornaments. She is happy to share where each ornament came from and enjoys the activity and sharing her memories. We are fortunate to have more than one room to decorate, so I can still use some of my own decorations in a different room.
o We are both fond of flowers, so I also buy fresh flowers or Christmas plants. Flower arrangements are also an activity that we share and enjoy.
o Another activity I might suggest this year is making some Christmas crafts. Some of my friends have shared that their elders enjoy this type of activity very much.
• Holiday Foods: Baking Christmas cooking is especially enjoyable when Granny and her great-grandkids participate. We all enjoy the decorating and the eating of these treats! We also make enough so that we can share them with some other seniors. Preparation of favorite holiday desserts and dishes is also a family affair. It was fun watching my husband and his mother prepare a family recipe for pimento cheese. Even if Granny can’t stand long enough to complete the cooking—she is happy supervising.
• Holiday Parades: Last year we took Granny and some other seniors to a local Christmas parade. It takes a little effort to make sure she doesn’t have to walk too far on her walker and that she has a folding chair—but, the smile it brought to her face made it worth the effort.
• Holiday Lights: This is a traditional evening affair started by a nice dinner out. This is followed by driving around our town and enjoying the holiday lights and decorations.
• Holiday Entertainment: Taking elders with you to holiday concerts and performances is also a great way to share your love. Granny still talks about the time we went to see the Radio City Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular.
• Holiday Shopping: The idea of fighting the crowds during the holiday shopping season can be overwhelming and stressful for seniors with limited mobility. I try to assist Granny with her shopping by showing her items on my computer and then either ordering them on-line or picking them up for her at the store.
• Holiday Religious Service: Even though Granny is no longer physically able to attend weekly church services, I greatly encourage her to attend our Christmas Eve Service with our family. This seems to provide a much needed boost both spiritually and emotionally for us all! I strongly encourage you to ask your senior to participate in similar activities in your chosen religion!
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your seniors Happy Holidays!

Please email any comments you may have about senior living, senior products or senior services to info@eldercaresimplified.com with Comments in the subject line. Or you can contact me or one of the other compassionate senior care advisors at (306) 847-2322 or at ElderCare Simplified Senior Resource Center, 629 N. Dixie Freeway, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168. Either way this is free! Let us help you.

I’m looking forward to your comments.

Sincerely,

Susan Little, Senior Care Advisor
Owner/Operator ElderCare Simplified, LLC